The German Pandemic Baby Boom That Never Was

When the pandemic began, many people believed that being forced into lockdowns would encourage people to have more sex and therefore, more babies. The anticipated pandemic baby boom never materialised. There is some evidence that we are experiencing a summer baby boom as the economy rebounds and the country returns to normal. There are many reasons why the pandemic baby boom never happened. Couples may have been too stressed out and anxious and the hit to finances and job numbers will have made couples cautious about having a baby. In Germany, talk of a pandemic baby boom was equally optimistic. According to The Local de, the actual numbers are less enthusiastic about the idea. 

The Absence of a Baby Boom

Pandemic babies, those babies born during the Covid-19 pandemic, were supposed to be the one thing that Germany produced in abundance at a time when the country was forced into a series of lockdowns. The data suggests that things didn’t quite pan out that way. 

According to Destatis (the Federal Statistical Office), there were 315,000 babies born in the first five months (January to May) of 2021. These babies will have been conceived during Germany’s first lockdown (late March to early May), and in  May and the summer of 2020, when the stay-at-home orders had largely been lifted. These 315,000 births represent an increase of just 1.4% compared to the number of babies born in the same period in 2020. That is very far from being a “pandemic baby boom”.

Interestingly, Germany experienced a very brief baby boom, as we are seeing in the United States. There was an increase of 3,700 babies (or a 6% increase) in March 2021 against the number of babies born in March 2020. Until then, there had been no discernible “boom’ or decline in numbers. Indeed, Destatis describes the birth trends till then as being “unremarkable”.

Broadly though, there were no striking changes in birth rates between January and May 2021. In other words, where society expected that the pandemic would result in dramatic changes in family planning, the reality is that there is little evidence the pandemic brought about any such change. In the initial lockdown and the summer, couples did not have significantly more or fewer children than were conceived in 2019. 

The March Baby Boom

The big question is how to account for the March baby boom. March is an anomaly in search of an explanation. How do we explain the larger than normal number of potential owners of Nuna Baby Strollers? Nine months prior to the March baby boom, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that she was relaxing the initial lockdown restrictions. At that time, the feeling was that Germany had turned a corner and that this was the end of the crisis. This likely led to a lot of celebrations, celebrations whose fruits emerged nine months later. Given that Germany has undergone several other lockdowns, subsequent announcements will have been met with greater caution, and less fanfare and celebratory feelings.